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Performances

Visionary Futures: Science Fiction Theatre for Social Justice Movements — March

 


Image by Tatiana Godfrey

This project takes its inspiration from the Octavia’s Brood anthology, which explores the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. We have commissioned three professional playwrights to each write a 30-minute play of visionary fiction that confronts urgent issues of our time. Each writer has been paired with an activist whose work intersects with the play's subject matter. These writer/activist teams will collaborate to create work that is visionary in its approach while also grounded in contemporary activist thought.
The plays, written to be performed digitally, will be in conversation with each other and will present three different visions of future worlds. Unity and Gender Experience TM will be presented in full livestreams. We will be presenting excerpts from Beyond Reform, and on March 31 we will hold a Visionary Futures panel discussion to hear from each writer and activist pair along with the director and dramaturg about how they all collaborated to create these new plays.

Wednesday, March 24, 7:30 pm: Gender Experience TM by M Sloth Levine
Thursday, March 25, 7:30 pm: Unity by Phaedra Scott
Friday, March 26, 7:30 pm: Excerpts from Beyond Reform by Jaymes Sanchez

Wednesday, March 31, 7:30 pm: SCHEDULE CHANGE: Visionary Futures panel discussion
Thursday, April 1, 7:30 pm: Gender Experience TM by M Sloth Levine
Friday, April 2, 7:30 pm: Unity by Phaedra Scott

You can access a transcript of Gender Experience TM (PDF) here!

You can access a transcript of Unity (PDF) here!

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Registration open now through Google Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeO45MXDHqFKtOXWiX2BS_dWJycrAyS8LW7-_WRFhbud7FSVA/viewform?usp=sf_link
or at the Fine Arts Center Box Office https://fac.umass.edu/Online/article/TheaterDepartment


Conceived and Directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden
Dramaturg: Tatiana Godfrey
Streaming Producer: Leanna Keyes
Streaming Associate: Kyra Bowie
Costume Designer: Chenoa Albertson
Sound Designer: Josh Glenn-Kayden

Directing Advisor: Gilbert McCauley
Costume Design Advisor: Yao Chen
Sound Design Advisor: Amy Altadonna

Stage Manager: Becca Cottrell
Assistant Stage Managers: Olivia Darling and Sena Yacteen

Unity

by Phaedra Scott

Cast:
Companion: Darrow Sherman
Noe: Mei MacQuarrie
Macaria: Carolyn Parker-Fairbain

Activist Partner: Dr TreaAndrea Russworm

Unity, by Phaedra Michelle Scott, depicts a future in which the people of an overcrowded, ever-warming Earth have begun to explore new worlds in the hopes of finding a new place for humanity to thrive, even a the expense of alien populations.

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Beyond Reform
by Jaymes Sanchez

Cast
Jill/The Nice One: Mei MacQuarrie
Danielle: Carolyn Parker-Fairbain
Bo/The Jerkish One: Darrow Sherman
The Cool One: Jackie Chylinski

Activist Partner: Eli Plenk

Please note: For Beyond Reform, we will be offering a presentation of excerpts and a peek into the development process with the creative team.

This in-process peek at Beyond Reform, by Jaymes Sanchez, will highlight multiple ideas and concepts from the prison abolition movement and how they exist within a future not too distant from our own.

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Gender Experience TM
by M Sloth Levine

Cast
Jackie Chylinski
Carolyn Parker-Fairbain
Darrow Sherman

Activist Partner: Finn LeFevre

Gender Experience TM, by M Sloth Levine,  posits a future in which the definition of gender has expanded beyond our current understanding and can be made manifest through a new technology. What would you do if there were no limitations on your gender experience?

Please note: The content and language in Gender ExperienceTM explore the various intersections of gender and sexual orientation. Text includes terms associated with homophobia, transphobia, and trans misogyny as well as sexually explicit language.

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Department and Production Staff
Production Manager: Julie Fife
Assistant Production Manager: Rudy Ramirez

Technical Director: Michael Cottom
Scenic Construction Director: Brandon Hall
Department Master Electrician: Michael Dubin
Costume Shop Manager: Kristin Jensen
Costume Shop Assistant: Felicia Malachite

Public Relations Director/House Manager: Anna-Maria Goossens
Assistant House Manager: Bianca Dillard
Ushers: Phoebe Bell, Yuying (Ethel) Deng, Walt Manasse-Latham, Maxwell Megas, Alexandra Uzbay, Yi Wei Wang, Chris Webber, 
Public Relations Intern: Sofia Sallaway
Publicity Artist: Tatiana Godfrey
Business Manager: Joanne Corbeil-Harper
Administrative Assistant: Bethany Sherwood
General Manager: Willow Cohen
Department Chair: Harley Erdman


Meet the Team

The Playwrights
Jaymes Sanchez
is a Texan playwright, actor, director, and educator. Jaymes's plays have been developed with The Lark, Company One, Teatro Vivo, San Diego REP, and Artists' Theatre of Boston. His play THE CUCUY WILL FIND YOU received the 2020 Keene Prize for Literature. Jaymes has been a finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Latinx Theatre Commons Carnaval, and the Kitchen Dog Theater New Works Festival, as well as a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award. Jaymes was a 2019 Company One Playlab Fellow and a member of the 2018 Company One PlayLab Unit. He earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Brown University and taught English and Theatre at Milton High School (MA). Jaymes is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin.

Phaedra Michelle Scott is a playwright and dramaturg based in New York City. Her play, DIASPORA! was a commissioned work through SpeakEasy Stages’s The Boston Project. She is a past resident at SPACE on Ryder Farm for her play PLANTATION BLACK, and is currently a member of the obie-award winning playwriting ensemble, Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theater and Pipeline Theater Company’s PlayLab. Currently, she is developing her newest play GOOD HAIR, recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant.  She has been an arts and culture journalist for wbur, Boston’s NPR station; a content developer at the USS Constitution Museum where she made maritime history accessible through storytelling and media. She is the resident dramaturg of New Harmony Project. Scott has received a Bly Creative Capacity Grant for her work as dramaturg for Black Theater Commons as well as the recipient of the Frederick Douglass Fellowship for her research on August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle. She is a crocheter, horror fan and obscure history enthusiast. She/Her/Hers. www.phaedrascott.com

M Sloth Levine is a trans theatremaker who directs, writes plays, and designs in Brooklyn, NY, previously Boston, MA. Recent work has been seen at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Sparkhaven Theatre, Trans Theatre Ensemble, Company One, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Fresh Ink Theatre, Brown Box Theatre Project, and Milky Way Coffee Roasters. They have been involved with the Gender Explosion Initiative with StageSource, advocating for gender diversity in New England theatre. They are a proud alumnus of the Company One PlayLab Unit. Sloth's work often involves the fantastic, spooky, and queer. In 2016 they received a BA in Theatre Studies: Directing & Playwriting from Emerson College.

The Activists
Finn Lefevre
is a dramaturg and facilitator whose work focuses on trans and queer communities. They facilitate applied theatre workshops on identity, naming, microaggressions, and community healing. Their recent projects include a traveling workshop called the Trans Naming Ritual, dramaturging and devising Queer & Now: Sync or Swim, and working on a new book on trans theatre. They have taught in the Theater Department at Keene State College and the Department of Ethnic and Gender Studies at Westfield State University. Their publications include "The Name (isn’t a) Game: New Explorations in Trans Applied Theatre" in Routledge Press' Diversity, Representation, and Inclusion, "Lip-Syncing for Our Lives: Queering Dissent in Queer & Now: a Lip-sync Spectacular" in the Palgrave Handbook of Queer and Trans Feminisms in Contemporary Performance, and "Schrödinger’s Dick: The Transgender Reveal Trope in Boy Meets Girl" in Beyond Binaries: Trans Identities in Contemporary Culture for Lexington Press. 

Before joining the English Department at UMass in 2008, TreaAndrea M. Russworm earned her B.A. from Brown University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her areas of research and teaching specialization include: video games and new media, digital cultural studies, African American popular culture, digital humanities, comic books and visual representation, and postmodern and psychoanalytic theories. Professor Russworm is currently working on a fourth book, a scholarly monograph, on race and technology.
In her first book, Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition, Professor Russworm argues that humanizing, or trying to represent in narrative and popular culture that #BlackLivesMatter, has long been barely attainable and impossible to sustain cultural agenda. The book is one of the first to examine the ways race and psychological rhetoric collided in the public and popular culture of the civil rights era. In analyzing a range of media forms, including Sidney Poitier’s popular films, black mother and daughter family melodramas, Bill Cosby’s comedy routine and cartoon Fat Albert, pulpy black pimp narratives, and several aspects of post–civil rights black/American culture, Russworm identifies and problematizes the many ways in which psychoanalytic culture has functioned as a governing racial ideology that is built around a flawed understanding of trying to "recognize" the racial other as human.
Her other two books on popular media include the anticipated edited collections, Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games (co-edited with Jennifer Malkowski) and From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (co-edited with Samantha Sheppard and Karen Bowdre). Russworm’s contribution to both books continues her critique of the humanizing impulse in post-civil rights representational culture, from video games and other digital media to popular films and television shows.
An experienced teacher in team-based learning (TBL) pedagogies, Professor Russworm is also the advisor for the New Media and Digital Humanities specialization and a person of contact for the interdisciplinary IT Minor (2016-2017)

Eli Plenk (they/he) is a teacher, organizer, and writer whose work focuses on building abolitionist futures.  Eli came up in Boston's youth organizing community, and began their career in Brooklyn.  There he worked with college students denied access to quality K-12 education, and developed reentry pathways for people coming home from prison.  Eli went on to teach incarcerated students in one of the nation's only prison-based college prep programs, before spending several years building a restorative justice initiative for court involved youth in Lowell.  Eli presently lives in Philadelphia, where their work focuses on bail reform and youth justice.  He is an editor at Protocols Magazine, and a graduate of Hampshire College and Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Beyond prison abolition, they enjoy soup, 90's pop, bright colors, geography, and trains.

The Creative Team
Josh Glenn-Kayden is the Artistic Associate and Casting Director at Company One Theatre and a Boston based director and producer. Recent directing projects include Baltimore by Kirsten Greenidge (UMass Amherst), workshops of Walden by Amy Berryman and The Interrobangers by M Sloth Levine (UMass Play Lab), Greater Good by Kirsten Greenidge (A.R.T. & Company One, associate director), the world premiere of This Place/Displaced (Artists’ Theater of Boston, ArtsFuse Best Stage Productions of 2018), the New England premiere of Nicky Silver’s The Lyons (Titanic Theatre), and the world premiere of Laura Neill’s Don’t Give Up the Ship (Fresh Ink Theatre). Josh is also the director and co-producer of The Legion Tapes (thelegiontapes.com), a sci-fi podcast written by Erin Lerch. Josh has directed and developed new work for the A.R.T., Company One Theatre, Flat Earth Theatre, the Museum of Science, UMass Amherst, Open Theatre Project, the One Minute Play Festival, and TC Squared Theatre Company. Assistant directing credits include productions at the A.R.T. Company One Theatre and UMass Amherst. Josh holds a BA in Drama from Tufts University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Directing at UMass Amherst.

Tatiana Godfrey was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a proud alumna of The School for Creative & Performing Arts and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Tatiana had a varied career in theater before discovering a passion for arts education. She served as the assistant director of the off-Broadway premier of No Dog’s Allowed by Sonia Manzano; she is a founding member of New York’s Pipeline Theatre Company and Atlanta’s Fabrefaction Theatre Company; she was featured in HBO’s David Mamet film Phil Spector. While serving as Fabrefaction’s Educational Director, Tatiana had the privilege of creating and launching a variety of educational initiatives that were focused on giving students practical skill sets to use both in theatre and in life. This approach to teaching led Tatiana to Ohio Career Technical Education, which focuses on teaching students to be ready for the workforce or secondary education. She is currently an MFA candidate in dramaturgy at the University of Massachusetts.